Carolina: Cruising Past 70

Thursday, January 17, 2019

You Must Travel to Discover Great Food

"20 Best Examples from our Recent European Tour"


During our all-inclusive three-month stay in El Cid Resorts of Mazatlan, Mexico with its ten restaurants in four hotels featuring Mexican, Argentinian, Italian, Japanese, and International food, I cannot help but think, feel, breathe food. I will write about this later but I had promised to write about Slovenian cuisine. In this post, I write not only about that but all the twenty-two best examples we discovered during our tour of five European countries last October 2018.

Slovenia

Katrina treats us to a great Slovenian dinner
We were so lucky our friend’s mother owns the national Slovenian cuisine restaurant in Old Town Ljubljana. Katrina treated us to dinner there. That’s when we found out about the secrets to Slovenian cuisine: all natural ingredients. In fact, very little sugar or salt is added because natural sugars and salts are used to flavor dishes. In fact, all Slovenian households have small gardens in their lots where they plant their favorite vegetables and even fruit trees. In addition, water is so naturally good because crystalline water sources abound in the very green countryside. One thing to note, usually, dishes have no names. Menus list all the ingredients used instead.

Slovenian meat dishes and sides


kremna rezina
During the dinner, Bill especially liked Slovenian sausages paired with those special buckeye wheat dumplings. But it is the cake called prekmurska gibanica that stole my heart. It is a layered pastry cake with fillings including poppy seeds, cottage cheese, walnuts, apples, and cream. It has just a hint of sweetness. This dessert experience was only topped by the kremna rezina which another friend Jure introduced to us when we visited him in Lake Bled. It is what every tourist looks for: a vanilla pie made out of vanilla custard, whipped cream, and two very thin puff pastry layers. If you are a lover of sweets, Slovenia is definitely the place for you!

Austria

dumplings in soup

As soon as we arrived in Innsbruck, we went to the grocery and found astringent persimmons in season. They were so soft, mushy and sweet! But the next day, I was downed by intestinal flu. I starved myself until I discovered the dumplings in soup one can buy from the rail bar as we were traveling on a train between Salzburg and Vienna. What a great comfort food! When we were in Salzburg, I found it again at a Viennese restaurant in Salzburg while Bill relished his wiener schnitzel. Before that, Bill relished the home-cooked apple strudel at the street market in front of the Mirabella Palace and Gardens where some scenes of the Sound of Music were filmed. And in Vienna, Bill had a sample of the famous sacher torte, of course!

apple strudel from the street market


Dieter and Ingga preparing to feed us
Germany

We were lucky to meet a couple, Dieter and Inga when we missed our bus at a station in Oberstaufen. They were so concerned and “adopted” us. The next day we happened to see them again when we were checking out the RV campground. We had drinks at their vacation home in the building just across the street. So they invited us to their maisonette in Uberlinger, two hours away, fronting Lake Bodensee. The liverwurst they served us, among all the sausages and cheeses Bill loved, was the mildest and best-tasting I have ever had. 

France

pannetone


French macarons
Our most wonderful discovery in France is a bread we found it in the street market near our apartment at Royal Vincennes Hotel in Vincennes, a Parisian suburb. I used to love fruit cake, then I took to the German stollen. Now, I am all for the Panetonne which is actually an Italian bread! But we also loved the French macarons my friend Yogi gifted us with some after our breakfast at Laduree. Bill and I each had great French twists to Eggs Benedict (headline photo). No wonder there are long lines at the Champs-Elyssee for both the breakfast AND the macarons!

Belgium

Belgian waggles

It is in Belgium, however, that we went all out for great food. That’s where we were greeted by displays of colorful Belgian waffles with all kinds of toppings. I also had a heyday with lots of premium chocolates, especially the dark ones of the Leonidas variety. Bill vouches for Belgian beer, too, especially the Duvel brand whose exclusive bar was right in front of the famous Maniekin Pis. A Visitor Center staff also advised us to have the best cheese fondue and beef raclette dinner at the restaurant of the same name. The, at one of the famous guild houses of the Grand Place of Belgium, we discovered the beef carbonnade, beef stewed in dark Belgian ale and the moules soup (instead of the more popular moules frites).

cheese fondue and beef raclette

From now on, I will pay attention to food during all our travels. It is a side of culture I had not focused on before. Now I am gung-ho about discovering great food. It just makes travel more satisfying, literally and figuratively!